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Marathon Mourning


I know which of my friends aren’t visiting my site at the moment: they’re the ones busy wishing me good luck for tomorrow’s New York City Marathon. Which means they probably don’t know I ran a Marathon only a month ago and that that I’m happily sitting New York out this year. All the more happily given that the forecast is for the third abnormally hot New York City Marathon in a row, with temperatures predicted to reach near 70 degrees – and with rain in the forecast, it will presumably be humid, too. Those are some nasty conditions to run 26.2 miles alongside 30,000 other people through the heat-trapping corridors of New York, so I can only wish everyone taking part (and I know a few) the best of luck and suggest, from my own painful experience in the last two years’ hot & sunny New York Marathons, that they take it easy.

(Time for a tangent: in September my mother alerted me to this summer’s Great North Run in England, where no less than four people DIED over the course of a half-marathon. The race officials’ only explanation was that the conditions were too hot and humid. Yet the temperature was only in the mid-high 60s and the humidity around 70%, which simply doesn’t compute: my first half-Marathon, in Manhattan in August 2002, the temperature was a scorching 88 degrees and the humidity 85%, and no one died on that run. Has anyone been following this news story? Were there any more revelations? The only thing I could think of was that, veterans of the Race though some of these four may have been, it’s possible that these runners may not have trained sufficiently, may not have prepared properly, and got swept up in the euphoria of the group run, pushing themselves beyond their physical limits. Such events are not to be taken lightly.)

The real reason for sitting out NYC this year is that my wife Posie, who got me into running in the first place (as a means of coping better with my weekend football matches) qualified for the race and I was meant to be her support team for once. Unfortunately, the exertion that comes with being a new mother – specifically, the energy lost in breast-feeding – prevented her getting her mileage up in training, and she took advantage of the NY Road Runners Club sensible deferment option: she has been automatically entered for 2006.

While I’m sitting out NYC, I won’t be sitting down tomorrow. I’m doing my first ever trail race, the 20k After The Leaves run down by New Paltz. It’s meant to be one of the beautiful runs in the States. It also involves running up and down mountains. Come noon tomorrow, the mile-long climb that is the 59th Street Bridge might be looking attractive by comparison.

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